Tag Archives: Jung

Chuck’s Place: The Sweat Lodge of Self

It’s Tuesday morning as I write this blog. The verse my soul brings me is a line from Leonard Cohen’s march,* “Democracy is coming to the USA.” This is not the seed my ego would choose to plant in this blog, but, as Leonard also once sang, “If it be your will.” And so, I acquiesce.

Looking forward to unification of earth & state…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Equally disturbing is the ruthless perseverance of American Express, incessantly invading the landline of our sanctuary on the hill with its myriad of tricksterish schemes to hook our energy. In fact, it led to a small spat between Jan and I at breakfast as to the best strategy to swat down that mosquito pest. I got angry at her ‘foolishness,’ picking up the phone and instantly hanging up. Her energy, as I saw it, hooked by the game, totally overlooking of course how my own heated reactive anger was perhaps doubly hooked!

Of course, it’s not lost on me the synchronicity of the heated energy of Leonard’s USA march and American Express’s steamroller tactics. America is at the center of our heated-up world right now, be it socially, politically, economically, or environmentally. In fact, our entire world is now a hot cauldron, an alchemical sweat lodge portending great transformation.

In a letter dated September 25, 1946, C. G. Jung writes to a colleague in New York: “…One could say that the whole world with its turmoil and misery is in an individuation process. But people don’t know it, that’s the only difference. If they knew it, they would not be at war with each other, because whosoever has the war inside himself has no time and pleasure to fight others. Individuation is by no means a rare thing or a luxury of the few, but those who know that they are in such a process are considered to be lucky. They get something out of it, provided they are conscious enough. Of course it is a question whether you can stand such a procedure. But this is the question with life too…”**

Jung wrote this letter shortly after World War II, clearly with the hope that the world could introvert—contain and seal off its warring elements within the individual—whereby creating the sweat lodge of self to advance corporeal humans to experience and unite within living form their latent spiritual, energetic self.

This is the goal of all life—individuation—to advance into and incorporate its wholeness, most especially to find and reconnect with its energetic self that lives and reigns in the life of the physical body.

Don Juan Matus maintained that the survival of our world dream required humankind to discover and bring its energy body into life. Both Jung and don Juan passed on their individual methods, psychotherapy and shamanism respectively, to avert world destruction, but were each equally guarded in their prognoses.

And so the world heats up once again, on many levels, with the deeper intent of evolutionary advance at its center. The earth has become the sweat lodge of this deeply transformative process. But you know, we are the world.

And so, back to the sweat lodge at our Tuesday morning breakfast table. The warring elements that manifest in the opposites of man and woman, spirit and material, naturally seek to trump each other. In our case, the fiery energies were maturely contained as breakfast was consumed on the Holy Grail plates, the projections burned off within, the projected elements—the wrong/bad other—introverted, sealed off within the sweat lodge of the self.

In the process, as the emotional distortions burned off, energy body self emerged with its 360° perspective. All sides are relevant and acceptable from this all-round perspective, all fit neatly together.

American Express is merely part of the catalyst of now, challenging us to find within us the place of no pity, the place of compassionate detachment and love, and with it the energy body of our potential self.

Don’t leave home without it,


*Quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Democracy.”

**Quote from C. G. Jung Letters Volume 1: 1906-1950, p. 442

Chuck’s Place: Living In & Out of Time

A young child dreams of seven white geese marching down a street. All the people the geese walk past fall down dead. Surprisingly, C. G. Jung suggests that this is a favorable dream, that this is nature, via the dream, introducing the young child to the world of time. Everything passes. To the child’s world of timelessness, still bathed in the myths and depths of the collective unconscious, life and death are introduced, including her own awareness of herself as a mortal being in this world.

Day and night, time and timelessness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Life in this world is a bipolar affair. We all grapple with it. At one pole we feel our link to the timeless, as we often live as if we have forever! Though we may negatively judge this ‘slothful’ attitude, it nonetheless is a link to  infinite life in timelessness, as an energy body or spirit. At the other pole is the truth of aging and mortality in a physical body, observed and experienced in fading life within and all around us.

At the beginning of every day the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say: “We are beings who are going to die.” This is their intent to keep their awareness fully present to their limited time and opportunity for life in this world. We are all beings saddled with the bipolar conundrum of life and death.

What Jung highlighted in this young child’s fall from innocence was the introduction of change, which happens when we enter life in time. Everything passes in time. Accepting this basic truth helps us to feel and release a wave of sadness. The pain of loss will eventually pass. In the world of time things mature and change and new possibilities for life will arise.

If we are gripped by a craving or passion, we know, if we hold on, that the compulsion will eventually pass. We may not be ready yet, we may still be too attached to the timeless pole of our being that accepts no limitations, but eventually we may be ready to inhabit our corporeal reality and accept the limitations of life in the body.

The great advantage of life in time, in a physical body, is that we are freed to complete our unique experience of life, what Jung called individuation. In time we unfold into the discovery and fulfillment of all that we are. We begin new things, be they careers, relationships, gardens, or books. We can nurture and live the course of these engagements to completion because in time, for better of worse, everything passes.

In time we can answer the questions of our ancestors and pose new ones for ourselves. To fully individuate in our life in time we must recapitulate. If we leave fragments of our lives unknown to ourselves we will not be able to integrate the full knowledge of our journey and we will leave behind questions that must be answered before completion. Perhaps this is the basis for reincarnation, bardo life, or time in purgatory.

My wife Jan lived in Sweden for several years during her twenties. She always felt she went there to fulfill something unfinished in a past life, to connect with and live out unfinished business with people who had once been very important to her. She was welcomed there with open arms, loved unconditionally, and she loved fully and unconditionally in return. She fully embraced being Swedish, learned the language quickly and fluidly, and did all things Swedish like a true Swede. When it was done, it was done. Time to move on and return to life in present time.

Into infinity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first wife, Jeanne, also completed unfinished business, though she did it in spirit form, after her physical death, reconnecting with the birth mother she never knew in her life as Jeanne Ketchel. It was the completion of her lives on earth, her final chapter in space and time, described in the final chapter of The Book of Us, channeled through Jan.

For although everything does pass in time, that which is not fully realized must be completed somewhere, somehow before we are fully freed to move on in timelessness. As everything passes, as we complete our many paths of individuation, we enter infinity, enriched by our lives and ready to explore new paths of heart, in and out of time.

Finding the timeless in time,


Chuck’s Place: Not So Bad

Suffered with a backache for most of last week. Must have done something “wrong.” Finally had enough, reached out with a clear intent: May the healers come tonight and heal my back.

Had the kind of sleep where you wake up convinced you haven’t slept. Jan assures me that I definitely slept. I choose not to ask her how she knows for sure.

Walking all night long…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

All night I found myself with Dr. Yang, the surgeon intern on Grey’s Anatomy played by Sandra Oh. She is belligerently and steadfastly determined to stack her own unique pile of practices, like chapters of a book, as an alternative to the required purchase of health insurance. All night we walk briskly along the shoreline of ocean beaches, miles of beaches, in what feels like a doggedly active, sleepless night, as she builds her chapters.

I open my eyes at 4:30 am. Time to wake up. My awakening ego consciousness is deeply disappointed by my restless night. I’m immediately drawn to judge my activities of the day before as the culprit for my lack of deep rejuvenating sleep. My thoughts evoke negative feelings. I must have done something “wrong.”

I’m reminded of a workshop I once attended, led by Carol Tiggs, the Nagual woman, Carlos Castaneda’s counterpart. It was she who left with don Juan’s party of sorcerers as they “burned from within,” as they left this world to embark on their definitive journey in infinity, life beyond the human form. Only in Carol’s case, she returned to human form ten years later and became the spark for Carlos’ coming out party in the birth of Tensegrity.

At this workshop, Carol went on hilariously talking about “Bobby the Flyer,” the being she characterized as filling her mind with negative thoughts about herself. She even broke into a song about just how bad she was. Bobby became a playful name for that character in all of humanity that commandeers the mind to fixate upon and be tormented by its human inadequacies.

Yesterday, Jan and I were reading a lecture Carl Jung gave in 1936 on children’s dreams where he amplified the meaning of a child in a stable. Of course, a major archetypal representation of this is Christ’s birth. Jung pointed out the significance of being born as an animal, in a stable. Why would a “god” incarnate thusly?

Jung suggested that the stable archetype offers support to the lowly human animal to appreciate its animal instinctive self. We hold ourselves to such high spiritual and moral perfectionist standards that take us away from truly appreciating and accepting the instinctual, physical animal that we really are. Perhaps this is the original sin that gives fertile ground to Bobby the flyer. As soon as we switch from body to consciousness, or spirit self, all we see are our human animal failings.

As I sat in bed observing Bobby doing his “I’m so bad” thing, I suddenly realized that my back didn’t hurt so much and then I remembered the intent I had set before sleep and the dream of walking all night. Could it be possible that my back had actually healed? Could that endless walking on the beach with the anima healing surgeon have been the realization of my very clear intent to heal?

I very gently set my feet onto the floor, stood up straight, and walked a few steps. Pain completely gone!

“Sorry Bobby,” I thought, “guess I’m really not so bad after all!”


A Link to the Timeless

I had the good fortune of a brief, private audience with Laurens Van der Post back in the 1970s. I asked him whether Jung really meant that what an individual resolved within themselves could indeed radically change the world. He replied, “that was Jung’s absolute conviction.”

In this time, where so much energy is drawn outwardly to the decisions of rulers overpowering our destiny, I pass on links to Laurens Van der Post’s three-part series on Jung’s contribution to our time, which captures the inner path to change. I am indebted to a young man for his research in finding the links to these valuable films which have been lost to me for decades.

Here are the links, the films are approximately 30 minutes each:

#1 In Search of the Soul

#2 67,000 Dreams

#3 The Mystery That Heals

March on consciousness!


Chuck’s Place: It’s All In The Name

John’s Gospel begins with the statement, “In the beginning was the word… and the word was made flesh.” A new child is assigned a name from which its life “fleshes” out.

Surnames are a given. They issue from the ancient lineage, the journey of one’s genetic tribe, a substrate of the deeper unconscious self, filled with many possible manifestations, “oh, he has his eyes, her nose, his temperament,” as the newborn is fitted into the ancestral backdrop of the tribe.

What's in a name? More than you think! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What’s in a name? More than you think!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Despite the power of the ancestral lineage, the more operative, active name for this life we are in is our first name. This name is assigned, by parents, by whatever system of whim or obligation, to be the name we will be known and defined by. In contrast to our ancestral surname, our first name is how we will be most known in this life.

Outwardly, our name carries with it all the associations our family might have with that name, as well as associations to others with a similar name, not to mention the famous or significant personalities who have been identified by the same name. In short, the expectations and perceptions of the outside world will color and define who we will be seen as in response to our given name.

Inwardly, all names derive from ancient archetypal roots that are associated with qualities of nature, myths, and gods. Hence, our name activates archetypal qualities that are expressed as central themes in our lives. For example, I was assigned the name Charles at birth after my vibrant maternal grandfather, a self-made man. Charles issues from the Germanic karlaz, which translates as free man.

I can think of no better words to capture the leading motif of my own life. I left my family as a teenager and struck out on my own, seeking freedom. I was drawn to Carlos Castaneda, a derivation of Charles, who taught complete freedom from the social order and the freedom to travel as a free spirit in infinity unencumbered by dogma. Carl Jung, another derivation of Charles, has been my other ultimate guide to freeing the self from the intrusion of dissociated or unknown aspects of the self.

With consciousness comes freedom. Together with the teachings of Carlos and Carl, I have been able to extend my reach for freedom in my clinical work, helping others to recapitulate and gain freedom from the blockages of their unknown selves.

My wife was given the name Jan because her mother, as a new teacher, saw young girls struggling to write out their long, complicated names. This led her to determine that girls were dumb, and thus she gave her own daughters short, three letter names, perhaps so they might not appear dumb to future teachers. It wasn’t until later in life that Jan learned this was the reason for her name, but nonetheless the determination that girls and women are just not as smart as boys, applied to her personally before she was even born, has been one that Jan has had to struggle against and prove otherwise her entire life.

In the outer world, when Jan lived in Sweden, she was called up for military service, for Jan was a man’s name in Sweden. Outwardly, naming a woman Jan proved rather foolish. This is the name made flesh.

John, of which Jan is the feminine form, was the name of several Biblical characters and disciples of Christ, including the one I quote at the beginning of this blog. It is an important name borne by saints and popes, as well as royalty. Not dumb after all. At the deepest archetypal level, the Hebrew derivation means God is gracious, and I cannot think of a better description of Jan, who has channeled her way to God at the level of her soul, for she is utterly gracious. Of course, it does not escape me that her Soul Sister in infinity, Jeanne, also derives from the same root, John. As a child Jan never liked her name, but now is quite pleased to have it!

It is interesting to study the roots of the name Donald, given current world conditions. Donald is derived from Old Celtic elements dubno (world) plus val (rule). Thus, one who possesses this name may indeed be challenged with the issue of power and world rule. How one would manifest or resolve this charge could vary greatly, but the underlying motif of reckoning with an urge to rule broadly is likely inevitable.

Here one is reminded of the Don, the term affectionately applied to the Italian Mafia godfather who plays a paternalistic role, as well as don being applied to the Nagual, the leader of a shamanic party, as a sign of respect.

When we explore the etymology of our first name, it is valuable to broaden the exploration to include mythological parallels. For instance, a Lauren, whose name derives from laurel, might explore the myth of Daphne and Apollo where transforming into a laurel tree was Daphne’s sanctuary.

In Carlos Castaneda’s lineage it was recommended that people play with renaming themselves, as a tool to erase personal history. The exercise was intended to break the energetic constraints imposed by the expectations attached to one’s given name.

This practice reminds us that though our lives may have been largely defined by the outer expectations and inner archetypes that define and control a name, we are ultimately free to move beyond those constraints and be in charge of our own destinies.

I do suggest, however, that before we move beyond our given name, we explore it fully in the flesh, and realize and resolve the challenges it has presented us with in this life.

Named and Nameless,